Archive for the ‘Business & Work’ Category

Your customer service sucks.

When I got my Samsung Galaxy S3, I loved it.  That was 18 months ago.  Will I ever buy a Samsung product again?  Doubtful!

My problem started the first weekend in February.  My phone would sometimes charge, sometimes not.  On Saturday 8th February on advice given to me by your Irish Twitter person, I rang the help line.  We went through hours (literally) of calls back and forth on that day, as his computer wasn’t working properly.

I should have taken that as an omen.

It was eventually agreed I should send my phone away to be checked.

The ‘special envelope’ arrived, and I sent my phone away on Tuesday 18th February, not knowing how long it would take for it to come back.

I was thrilled to bits when it arrived back on Friday 21st.  Wow, I thought what service!

That delight was short-lived.

By Monday or Tuesday of the following week, the phone was acting up again, but the problem had escalated… now the screen was freezing, the phone was switching off…. I could go on.

Again your Twitter operator in Dublin came to my help and a chap from your Dublin office (I have his name) rang me and we went through the motions of discussing the problem. He promised he would call me back when he had looked into it. Nothing happened for days.  I left various voice messages and nothing happened. Eventually on 26th February I spoke to a different chap (I have his name too!). He told me he’d have to check the records and be back to me “in half an hour, an hour at most.”

I’d like to point out that at this stage the phone was so untrustworthy, I had given these guys my landline number.

He never rang me back!!!!

As you will appreciate I was really annoyed and angry at this stage.  I made more and more phone calls and eventually spoke to chap no. 2 who told me my phone was approved for replacement and I would receive a call with an ‘authorisation code’ in 48 hours.

That, dear folks, was on 28th February.  No phone call came.

Another week of making phone calls…. this time I got to speak to chap no. 1 again. He did at least try to ring me put my Samsung Galaxy S3 is virtually dead at this stage, and I couldn’t answer his calls.  He left me a message saying I would be getting a replacement phone… and I’d get the ‘authorisation code’ from UK in 48 hours.   48 hours passed no phone call.

Following a tweet I put out, I got a tweet from Dublin telling me UK are very busy!!!!!

Do I care?  No I don’t.  I need my phone replaced.

The third 48 hour phone call period I was promised expired on Monday 7th March.

I have made a decision not to call you…. just to see how shoddy your customer service is.  How long can you possibly take to issue an ‘authorisation code’.  You’ve declared my phone unfit for purpose.

My phone is a business tool…. it was meant to be a MOBILE business tool.

It is not MOBILE now, it has to be plugged in at all times.




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As if I needed prompting!

This is what was said to me just a few months after I lost my job in 2009…. just at a time when I was job searching and trying to find a way to make a living.

I knew this person, and they knew my circumstances.  They were then, and still are, working in the public service for over 20 years.  Take a 2 week foreign holiday every year, change their car annually,  and are on a damn fine salary and pension.

I remember standing in front of her, wondering is she in the real world at all?  I was too dumbfounded to even respond.

Looking down over the valley

Looking down over the valley

In the past few months I have been angered by people who have approached us and asked us to work for ‘free’.

We both do our fair share of volunteering and are glad to do it.

However, like everyone else we need to make a living.   Hence the reason I put this up on the blog and on the website.  And, yes, it is tough out there.

There are weeks here when we wonder where the funds are going to come from to feed the pigs.

And yes, we know we are lucky too, as we have a very good life, and are luckier than some.

We’ve had people approach and ask us to share how we built the market for the pork.  How we cost and price our product?  One person even wanted us to write the Business Plan for his pork business!!!  I kid you not.

However, perhaps the worst – and I had to calm down substantially before I could write about this – was being approached by a Government agency twice in recent months and asked to write blog posts for FREE!

On the first occasion I decided, in an effort to stay calm, to ignore the email – the topic was not even relevant to any of you, so why would I write about it?

The second time around – the agency was asking me to promote another commercial business – but again I would do so for FREE.  Of course, I would – NOT.

The topic, by the way, would have put me in a difficult position with some other local producers.

I calmed down, and waited overnight to make sure I was calm.  I wrote back and politely said that writing blog posts is what I do to promote our business, and that I occasionally will write a sponsored post, if it ‘fits’ into what we do here.   I explained that while I would be delighted to advise the company on how to use social media, etc. to promote their business, naturally I would have to charge a fee.

To say their response was ‘out of order’ is putting it mildly.  They were actually rude and totally out of line.

You can probably sense that I am still angry!!!!

This all coming from a government agency whose whole remit is to ‘support and assist’ small businesses.

Is it any wonder this country is in the mess it is in?

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An interesting statement isn’t it?  But it is so so true.  Who grows your fruit and veg?  Who grows the grain for your bread and cakes?  Who grows your meat?

Farmers feed families….. farmers of all sorts, feed families of all sorts.

source unknown

source unknown

Sometime back in May a call was put out on twitter looking for farmers to volunteer to tweet for a week about their life on their farm… and so @tweetingfarmers was born.  We immediately signed up and both of us have already done our week of tweeting.

The thought has often struck me ‘would twitter have helped’ during the recent fodder crisis?  Would those despairing farmers have chatted to someone on twitter about their difficulties?  It is often easier to chat to a ‘stranger’ than to embroil family and friends in your crisis and worries.

The idea for Farmers Feed Families and the Tweeting farmers was concieved by Anne Brady and Jessica Zaffino – two ladies living in Dublin who feel people have become totally disconnected about where their food comes from!!!  So fair play to them, they decided to do something about it.

When we had the launch of @TweetingFarmers here in June I took the opportunity to chat to Anne about their plans – where they idea came from, etc.

So here’s their story….

Anne grew up on an organic dairy farm on the Cavan/Longford border where they had a mixed herd of Jersey, Ayrshire and Shorthorns.  Her Dad has been farming organically since 1994 but only went for certification in 2009.

Jess grew up in Canada and did Agricultural Science in college, completing her Masters Degree in the Epidemiology Department.  Her research for her Masters was part of a National Dairy Cow Welfare Assessment.

The girls then meet up in Dublin….and have noticed over the years the lack of  understanding that people have of agriculture and farming in general.  If you haven’t grown up on a farm, you will have little knowledge of what happens on a farm each day, the thought process that goes into producing food and the work and involvement that it takes.   There is a Canadian group called ‘Farmers Feed Cities’ so rather than reinvent the wheel, Anne and Jess decided to start a similar campaign in Ireland – ‘Farmers Feed Families’.

There are major plans afoot to keep this initiative going.  They hope to get companies interested in funding the various projects they have planned.  (Any companies out there want to sponsor a project?  Get in touch with Anne at Farmers Feed Families!)

If you are an urbanite and would like to learn more about the day-to-day running of a farm – dairy, beef, grain, pigs, goats, sheep – follow along on @TweetingFarmers.  This campaign is a wonderful insight into what is going on on a daily basis on farms across the country.  Each week a different farmer takes over and curates the account.  Next week it will be a neighbour of ours – Michael Seymour of Sheepwalk farm – who will be tweeting.

The next project that Farmers Feed Families will be launching is ‘Like Food? Love Farmers!’  The aim of this project is to connect people with their local egg/beef/dairy/etc farmer.

We wish Anne and Jess the very best of luck with their plans and will certainly offer our support in whatever way we can.

Go on, give them a follow on @TweetingFarmers or @LoveIrishFarms

Or better still if you know of any farmers…. get them to join the campaign… let’s get all farmers talking to each other via twitter 🙂


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Changing our ways

It has been a busy time here in Redwood.

We were so lucky to have so many orders for hams and pork pre-Christmas which made the weeks leading up to Christmas crazy, crazy busy.  As we had orders to go to every corner of the country, we decided to implement one of the changes we had come up with in our review of tactics.

There was no way we could physically have managed to do all the deliveries ourselves.  Orders had to get to Dublin, Dundalk, Donegal, Waterford, Wexford – practically every corner of the country.  We brought in couriers.  It worked.

Pork orders ready for shipment

Pork orders ready for shipment

There were hic-cups which annoyed and frustrated us at times.  We’ve learned lessons from the experience.   Next year Christmas deliveries will go out earlier – rather than leaving them to Christmas week!

Fastway (the courier firm) have been extremely helpful in working with us to resolve some of the frustrations we experienced.  Well done to them on responding to customers issues.

Working with a courier firm means that folks can get their pork quicker!  🙂

Our customers no longer have to wait until we have a few orders in the one area – we can (provided we have the stock) ship to them within a couple of days!

Many orders have already gone out this week…. we’re back to shipping!

I must tell you…. we thought we were so organised with the orders before Christmas – all done and dusted by 22nd December.  Aaaah, BUT, we hadn’t factored in the customer who arrived unannounced at 8 pm on 23rd looking for his supply of bacon, sausages and pork for Christmas!  He was lucky we had some left!

Then once the ‘work’ side of things were sorted – the visitors arrived!

From 21st December for 18 days, we had visitors every single day.  Eleven different people came and went.

Lily (A Mexican Cook in Ireland) cooked this delicious stuffed pork.

Lily (A Mexican Cook in Ireland) cooked this delicious stuffed pork.

We ate a lot.  We cooked.  We drank.  We talked. We laughed.  We played boules (in between the rain showers).  We got the occasional walk in.

Yes, in January, the crazy Mexican girl was walking barefoot on the beach!!!

Yes, in January, the crazy Mexican girl was walking barefoot on the beach!!!

I washed, I ironed.  I am still ironing.

So apologies for the long gap since last post…. but I think you’ll understand!

How was your Christmas and New Year?

Happy 2013! Hope it brings lots of good things your way.

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It has been a difficult few weeks here in Redwood.

As you know Alfie was in hospital for a couple of weeks, followed by more weeks on medication.  Then to compound it all I got struck by some bug…. nothing serious just days of discomfort and total exhaustion.

All of this forced us to think about what we are doing here.  Owing to human illness our ‘production’ has dropped dramatically this year which naturally means no sales.  You can’t sell what you don’t have!

Keeping pigs is not difficult, but it is physical.

While Alfie was in hospital he worried about me out feeding the pigs on my own.  I don’t mind feeding them, it is jsut heavy work carrying meal and water to them.  However, there are other aspects that I just can’t manage on my own…. like loading them onto a trailer!  And, in fact, while I can drive forward with a trailer on the car, do NOT ever ask me to reverse the car with a trailer on.  Co-ordination goes out the window!

So this past couple of weeks, we’ve had to seriously consider whether to continue on with what we are doing.  Can we afford to keep going?  No sales, means a serious drop in income and there are still many mouths to feed.

The decision, after much tossing and turning of sleepless nights, and churning out different ideas and plans, is that we will fight back.

It is going to take time.  We have, we hope, come up with a scheme that will kick into place should illness strike again.

So we are back working on getting pork to people.  Four pigs loaded into the trailer this evening for their final journey tomorrow!

Perky has had her new litter.

The Gloucester Old Spots are growing nicely.

And just when we had made the decision to continue, look what arrived in the post!

McKenna's Guides Best in Ireland 2013

Thank you so so much to John and Sally McKenna – you have no idea how timely this was!  For non-locals John and Sally produce the best guides to food and places to eat and stay in Ireland – don’t travel without their guide.  To have our pork included as a ‘Best in Ireland’, well that is such an honour.

So we’re back, and we’d be delighted to take your orders!

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I’ve written here before about our delivery runs.  And, yes, we are still travelling all over the country with pork deliveries.

I recently drew the straw to do a run to Cork and Kerry.  It was a long drive, but an enjoyable one all the same.

Sometimes I just love being in the car on my own…. listening to the music I like and ‘singing’ along at the top of my voice too!  Not something you’d do with company 🙂

I’ve said before that we do the delivery runs ourselves so that we get to meet our customers.  However, we also get to see lots of this beautiful country of ours.  The disadvantage, however, when you are doing the deliveries is that you don’t have time to stop and admire.  You are constantly aware of time to deliver and the meat in the car.

Some of the highlights of my trip to Cork and Kerry – besides the wonderful scenery.  Mind you I am not sure allowing Mrs. SatNav to guide me was my wisest decision – she seemed to take me a very peculiar route!

  • Sometimes you come across place names that you just cannot figure out how to pronounce them, or what the origin of the name is…. there’s a place called Bweeng – so how’s that pronounced?
  • I know I was aware that there was a Gaeltacht area in West Cork, but I actually drove through it this time around.
  • I spotted some Zwartbles sheep on a hillside somewhere along the way – thought Suzanna over at Zwartbles Ireland would be proud to know that because of her I can now recognise them 🙂
  • I spotted Mannings Emporium which I only know via twitter!!!
  • You can’t imagine my excitement when I spotted Future Forests!  I have read so many articles about them…. and yes, it does look just like this.  Oh, how I wished I could have stopped for a couple of hours browsing.
  • And then…. who knew… did you know such a business existed?  Imagine somewhere on a tiny road in Cork or Kerry there is a toy soldier manufacturer!  I am impressed.
    Toy Soldier Manufacturer

This country of ours is truly amazing…. the scenery, the people, the ideas!

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Regular readers here will know that here at Oldfarm use what social media tools we can to promote our pork business.

We have the website, the facebook page, and in fact two twitter accounts.  I’ve set up a YouTube channel – which I need to build on.  I’ve set up Pinterest and Instagram accounts which I am still grappling with, more from the point of view of finding the time to keep all balls in the air!

Without these tools I don’t know how we would promote Oldfarm Pork…. we don’t have a marketing budget!  I have written and spoken before about how we use these tools.

However, yesterday, wearing a different hat to pig farming, I was asked to look at other small businesses in the Midlands and their web presence.

The results, to me anyway, were staggering!

27 companies looked at….. ranging from 1 person to 10/12 employees.

  • 10 had no website, or web presence, of any description
  • 8 didn’t even have an email address
  • 8 had a Facebook page
  • 5 had a Twitter account
  • None were using YouTube or Pinterest
  • Only 4 were using website, facebook and twitter

Now is it me, or is this amazing in 2012 for small businesses not to be using free tools to promote their business?

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